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Friday, 6 April 2012

Frankenstein: the SFX interview - part one

Last month I completed the manuscript of my new interactive version of Frankenstein and in very short order, thanks to the coding brilliance of Joe Humfrey and Jon Ingold at Inkle Studios, the thing was a working app that could be shown to journalists. The scoop went to Stephen Jewell at SFX magazine, and he has kindly given permission to run my answers to his questions in a series of blog posts in the run-up to Frankenstein’s release on April 26.

First question: Stephen asked,
“How did the project come about?”
I have a company with Jamie Thomson called Spark Furnace that specializes in the overlap between stories and games. Jamie and I between us have got forty years’ experience in books, videogames, TV and movies, so whenever possible we like to pick projects that can draw on all of those. We’ve been talking to publishers about interactive stories for quite a while, and Michael Bhaskar at Profile Books is one of the few who really gets it.

So the next question is how do we de-ghettoize it – because we’re acutely aware that a lot of people just tend to dismiss SF and fantasy and games as not worth their time. We wanted to make the literary snobs sit up and take notice, so how better to do that than by punking up a beloved classic? (That’s meant ironically, by the way, as I kind of am one of those literary snobs.)

Having agreed that was the approach we wanted to take, we made a list of about two dozen books we felt could really get a new lease of life from the interactive treatment, and it turned out that Frankenstein was everybody’s first choice. Then what looped the loop for us was that Michael knew the guys at inkle, who have a markup language that lets us write the kind of gamebook we used to do in the ‘90s and their engine turns it into an iOS app. So it’s a perfect storm of technology, content, marketing and publishing.

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